Katie Verburg is a personal trainer who is currently studying to become a certified holistic health coach. Here, she shares her eating plan as she adds “marathon training” to her schedule. Plus, tips for your own journey.
Prolonged exercise requires an adequate amount of nutrition pre- and post-workout. The same can be said for marathon training. In a world where all we hear about is gluten, keto, paleo, macro counting, juicing, and calorie restriction, knowing what to eat can be overwhelming. Having been in the fitness industry for nearly a decade, I’ve heard it all in terms of what the average person eats, how much they eat, and what they classify as “healthy.” Majority of the time, these people aren’t getting their nutritional information from a properly educated or qualified resource.
When we add marathon training into the mix, the average person can spend up to 5+ hours running in a week, making the answer to “what should I eat to work out?” a lot blurrier. Not only does proper nutrition remain important, but it also becomes the key to success.
RELATED: How to Improve Your Running Speed
Since I’m currently training for my first marathon, I want to approach it mindfully, and with the correct information to assist with my performance.
3 Nutrition Tips to Keep in Mind When You’re Marathon Training
With marathon training in full swing, I’ve been trying my best to be smarter about what, when, and how I’m fueling my body. Now that I’m burning roughly an extra 800-1,500 calories depending on the length of the run, I need to properly fuel post-runs. And fuel properly before and during each run, especially the longer ones. In addition, I need to take into consideration how many calories my body burns at rest. The reason I care so much about these numbers is because I want to be sure that I’m eating enough food to fuel my body.
Remember: Food Is Energy
It’s important to have a fairly large breakfast each morning, even if you aren’t marathon training. After you clock in 8-9 hours (hopefully) of sleep, giving your body a proper amount of protein and fat, as well as carbohydrates (that’s right, not all carbs are bad for you!), you’ll set yourself up for an energizing morning that will keep you away from mid-morning snacking. I love making myself a 2-3 egg scramble with 1 chicken sausage on the side, an avocado and some fruit. Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen with coconut milk has also become a morning staple.
Lunch and dinner should consist of a similar version to breakfast. For lunch, I’ll have a large spinach salad with grilled chicken, chickpeas, quinoa, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg, light shredded cheese, and balsamic dressing. I keep my salads hearty. It’s important to not feel afraid of eating larger portions of the right type of food when training for a big event.
Dinner tends to be lighter compared to breakfast. I typically eat meat or salmon, and pair my chosen protein with two servings of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, asparagus, etc.) I try to avoid heavy items at dinner, whereas if I were to incorporate a wrap, bread, pasta, or a sandwich it would be during breakfast or lunch.
Carbs Are Not the Enemy
It’s important to consume carbohydrates before and during exercise, especially on longer runs (i.e. marathon). Carbohydrates get a bad reputation, but truthfully, they aren’t the bad guy. Carbohydrates are the first macronutrient that is often depleted first while exercising. Thus, it’s important to replace as well. Carbohydrates, in the correct form, can allow for quick absorption and energy usage before and during exercise.
If you’re looking for a great addition to your own training, GU Energy (pictured above) has products that I have been using during my own training, because they are nutritionally crucial for longer workouts. It is one of the better and safer products that you’ll find out there to help you get through your longer workouts.